Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

I will be ringing in the new calendar year from my sick bed, unfortunately.  My boyfriend contracted something at work, and now I'm fighting it.  I've only been awake a couple of hours today.  Time to go back to bed after my gingerale.  Stay healthy in 2013, everyone!  May this year bring more triumph than tribulation.



Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy Birthday, Rick Danko!

Happy Birthday to one of my favorite musicians, Rick Danko!  He would've been 69 years old (young?) today.    We're having a party at my house to celebrate his life. 

On the menu: Homemade won-ton soup, mocha silk pie, and lots and lots of Jell-O shots!

Happy Birthday, Rick. We love and miss you. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Jell-O Shots

Pineapple upside down cake Jell-O shots for tomorrow's Rick Danko Birthday Bash:

1 cup canned pineapple juice
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1 cup cake vodka
24 maraschino cherry halves, optional
whipped cream and sprinkles to garnish, optional (but delicious)

Place the pineapple juice in a sauce pan and sprinkle the gelatin over it.  Let it sit for a minute to soften.  Heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved.  Stir in condensed milk. 

Pour in a measuring cup and add the cake vodka.  Stir together and pour into molds. 

I used mini muffin tin lined with paper cups.  I lightly sprayed the cups with nonstick cooking spray.  You could also use a silicone mold. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pagan Blog Prompts - New Year

For many Pagans, the ‘new year’ comes around Samhain. For the rest of the world, the ‘new year’ starts a new calendar, with January 1st
What is your personal take on the ‘new year’?  Do you honor the change in Oct-Nov, or do you wait?

Personally, I do see Samhain as the end of one year, but I don’t see the new year beginning until the winter solstice. From Samhain to Yule, we’re sort of between years and the veil is still thin.  For me the rebirth of the sun god in all his glory is the start of the new year.  I observe it then and I also do a little celebration on Dec. 31. I like to observe the solstice by watching the sun rise the morning after the longest night of the year. 

This year, however, my boyfriend will be working on both Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, so we are going to have a little celebration on Saturday.  Of course, it has more than one purpose. 

I will be celebrating the birth of Richard Clare “Rick” Danko, born December 29, 1943, died December 9, 1999.    We will have won ton soup, mocha silk pie, and strawberry shortcake Jell-O shots.  

For January 1 or 2 (my boyfriend doesn’t have to work on the 2), I am going to make a meal that consists of pork and cabbage. Pork and cabbage (usually sauerkraut – bleak!) are eaten in my family on New Year’s Day for good luck and prosperity in the coming year.  I believe I will combine that with the Chinese New Year (in February) and make some sesame pork meatballs and Napa cabbage.   

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Solstice 2012

I got absolutely spoiled this year!  Between my parents and my boyfriend, I couldn't ask for anything else.  I am beyond blessed.  I hope you all had a wonderful solstice as well.  Happy New Year! Nearly here!

A Band t-shirt, courtesy of my mom

The Goddess Path by Patricia Monaghan - from my boyfriend
I am really looking forward to reading this!

Nesting doll measuring cups! How darling!

Another groovy reusable shopping bag

Oh, this CD is awesome! Other Canadian artists performing songs of The Band. 

An Oster food processor, courtesy of my boyfriend. What kitchen witch doesn't want a new gadget? I needed this, too! And it's wonderful!

The last bit of Band merchandise, also courtesy of my mom

Monday, December 24, 2012

Almost time

As the veil closes until next Samhain, we are reminded of Christmases/Solstices/whateveroucallits with loved ones who have passed on.  These cooks are for the giving, loving spirit of Santa Claus, and as a way of saying farewell to the ancestors.   Depart if you must. Go in peace. 

Merry Christmas/Happy Solstice/Blessed Yule/Happy New Year!

I made Nigella's gingerbread tonight and I used my brand-new pan. It turned out really well, as you can see. Isn't that pretty?   If the cake tastes as good as the batter I licked off the spatula, we're in for a treat. Nom!

Have a happy, wonderful, merry, beautiful day, whatever you call it, even if it's just a regular Tuesday for you.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Solstice Menu

We are going to celebrate on Tuesday because my significant other is off work that day.  He works through Monday.  A friend from work is planning to join us, unless he finds something better to do ;) .

The Menu:

Pork tenderloin with gravy
roasted potatoes (with duck fat)
cauliflower gratin
cranberry relish
winter greens saute with pine nuts
glazed carrots

The gingerbread recipe is from Nigella Lawson, and it will be made in a Yule log-shaped pan that I purchased for the occasion.

I plan to make the cauliflower gratin with smoked Gruyere and smoked Gouda.

The winter greens are: Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, and Kale.  I will finely shred them and cook them with some bacon and Balsamic vinegar and garnish with pine nuts.

The carrots will get glazed with a mixture of butter, honey, and Ras-el-Hanout.

The bread I am making is the Harvest Home Rolls recipe.

If there is enough duck fat left over (and I will try so very hard to save some), I want to make popcorn with it. With more Marmite.


Edit 12/24/12:  I made the cranberry-orange relish tonight, as it gets better the longer it sits.   I cannot wait to start cooking!  I will make the bread and gingerbread tomorrow.

Happy Solstisce/Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gobi Manchurian

I first had this dish - an Indo-Chinese affair-  at a restaurant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  It was called the Maharaja of India, I believe, and my work friends (as well as some of our students) would routinely hit the lunch buffet on Fridays.  I was in the mood for some Indian food last night because the variety of vegetarian dishes is just immense. Plus, Indian food is just fragrant and delicious and fun to make.

I hit the Internet in search of the basics of the recipe, and then I added things that I remembered from the restaurant in Alabama to put some different touches on it.  It was amazing, let me tell you!

Gobi Manchurian

1/2 cauliflower, broken into florettes
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for deep frying

1 red and 1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks

For the sauce:
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 Serrano chilies, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili sauce
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup ketchup (I know!)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
3-4 green onions, sliced
1-2 tablespoons oil for frying

Mix together the flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Stir in enough water to make a batter.  Dip the cauliflower pieces in the batter.

Heat the oil to 350 F.  Deep-fry the cauliflower in small batches until crisp and dark golden in color.  Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Steam-fry the red and green bell peppers in a skillet in some water until tender, 7-8 minutes.  Let the water evaporate.

 Remove the peppers and heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in the skillet.  Fry the onions, garlic, and chilies over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes.  Add the chili sauce, soy sauce,vinegar, and ketchup.  Stir and cook 2-3 minutes, until sauce thickens.

Add the fried cauliflower pieces and red and green peppers to the sauce. Stir to coat.   Add green onions on top and serve.   It would be good with a handful of fresh cilantro scattered on top, too.

I ended up making a shrimp curry as well (I've eaten fish a couple of times during this experiment), but I elected to forgo it in favor of cauliflower.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lentil-Mushroom Prosperity Pot Pie

This recipe was on my calendar menu and I was so excited about the idea of it that I made it a day ahead of schedule.   This is a really nice, comforting dish for a cold day.  Plus, lentils can be eaten to bring prosperity at the new year or any time of year.  Mushrooms provide some moon magic and earth magic.  Lentil-Mushroom Pot Pie is a bountiful, earthy meal.  Serve with some crusty rolls and a salad to make a complete meal.

Lentil-Mushroom Pot Pie - serves 6

1 cup lentils, washed and sorted
1 4-oz. package dried mushrooms (I used shiitake)
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced into half moons
2 small parsnips, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
4-5 cups vegetable broth, as needed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons  grape seed oil

I sheet puff pastry, thawed

Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Cover and allow to sit until ready to use.
Heat the oil in a large pot.  Add the parsnips, leeks, and celery and cook 5-7 minutes over medium high heat until fragrant.  Add the garlic and cook 2-3 more minutes.  

Add the lentils, mushrooms, mushroom broth, and vegetable broth or stock.   Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until lentils are tender, about 30-35 minutes.   Add extra broth or water if necessary to keep lentils from scorching.    If extra liquid remains, uncover the pot and allow it to reduce. 
Stir in the herbs and season with salt and pepper.

Spray a casserole dish with nonstick spray.   Pour the lentil-mushroom stew into the casserole dish.   Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface, sealing the seams. 

Trim the pastry to fit the casserole dish and place over the rim.    You can use an egg beaten with a teaspoon of water to help seal the pastry to the dish.  Brush the top of the pastry to help it brown, too.

Heat the oven to 450 F.   Bake the pot pie until pastry is puffed and golden brown, 25-30 minutes.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

You, Me & Religion - My interview

My interview at You, Me & Religion

Check out the entire blog while you're at it.  What a great idea! I'm happy to have been able to contribute my teensy little bit.